Belgium must respond to concerns that its actions to dismantle a car-theft gang in the Roma community could have been disproportionate, a letter sent by a United Nations representative said, according to reports on Thursday.
The letter refers to an extensive dismantlement operation in which hundreds of vehicles, cash and other property were seized during a police operation targetting a vehicle trafficking gang active in the Roma community.
Around forty people have been charged with crimes and thirty others have been placed under arrests warrants following the operation.
The letter raises questions about the proportion of the measures taken by Belgium’s law-enforcement authorities against people of the travelling communities and does question the gravity of the crimes committed by the gang.
It was sent to Belgium’s Foreign Affairs Minister at the start of June by the representative for Indigenous Peoples and Minorities of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) after a lawyer with one of the family’s affected with the operation sent a complaint.
“Geneva demands a reaction from Belgium following the reception of a complaint,” Karl Lagatie, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Le Soir.
Belgium has 60 days to reply to the OHCHR’s letter.